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Poster: sakanaband Date: May 25, 2012 4:12pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry & Trey

Nobody has answered what I thing Highwater Henry's question. How did drug use/abuse affect Jerry's playing. Well, man, I don't know but I certainly noticed a really fascinating phenomenon during the last eight years of Jerry's life in his playing.

I was intensely into GD and JGB from 1987 to, well, the end. I moved to the Bay Area just to be closer to the action! As a result I saw more shows than I can remember during the time and feel profoundly blessed to have been a part of even that late era. Anyway, I got to where I just couldn't stomach seeing GD during the last couple years. Yes, I was spoiled. But more important, I KNEW what GD were capable of doing on stage.

I saw many excellent shows all over the country with Brent from 1987 through 1990. I still think that Fall 1989 and Spring 90 compare favorably and even top many of the great eras in their storied career. That made 1992 to 1995 particularly brutal. BUT..., I'd bop down to The Warfield on some random weekday night and Garcia would be ON FIRE!!! Engaged, succinct, lucid, inventive and radiating glory. This was definitely not every night. But 2 outta 3 JGB shows were great to transcendent during that same 92 - 95 time frame.

JBG played The Warfield what seemed like every 6 - 8 weeks around that time. A run at The Warfield would follow by one week or less some stinky clunker run over at the Oakland Coliseum. The contrast was startling, let me tell ya. None of us "regulars" could figure it out since most assumed that Jerry was just withering away from his bad habits. I was completely sober during those years and my ears were keen and I truly was not at all swayed by, um, perceptual inaccuracies. I sat at damn near the same table at The Warfield like 40 times from 91 to 95.

In retrospect things are clearer. Garcia was not at all "forced" to play in his own band. The pressures were very, very different in his role with GD. With JGB he was, not surprisingly, free. To play or not to play. It was for the sheer joy and this was radically evident to anybody that saw him there in those days. I was a HUGE tape collector back then and I thought that Garcia's playing with JGB during the 90's was the best that it had been at any time in his career. And in some ways even better since it was more sophisticated and really, really deep. Anyway, drugs. Who knows, man? I will say that I saw his first performance after his summer 1992 meltdown. He played the Oakland Coliseum which was a BIG room in the Bay Area for JGB (though of course he was routinely playing huge arenas back East and elsewhere). He was magical that night. He was clearly sober, his voice sounded youthful, and he looked great. It nearly carried over to the December GD run at same said venue. I thought that 12/16 and 12/17/92 were the only decent "Vinnie"-era shows I ever saw. From there GD declined dreadfully. But a quick ride into the city on a random Tuesday or Sunday or Friday night could be the gateway to enchanted realms of improvisational magic. With our favorite superhero at the helm and fully in/out of control.

Trey and Jerry? Apples and Oranges. Seen each guy the about the same number of times (125+). Trey is technically a better electric guitar player and has more all-around versatility in style. But Garcia? Sheesh. That tone and his style sound like they come from my soul as much as his. Best single instrumental player of all time. No doubt. And the most-recorded. No surprise there. And Trey? He is fabulous with Phish and is becomes a vessel like any of the truly great ones. Trey and Phish's contribution to the pantheon of music is their uncanny, incredulous and magical gift of creating the best Type II improvisation the world has ever seen. "That" they do better than anyone ever.

And to the Cream dude: Check out Paul Butterfield's "East-West Live" album from 1966. This might be the actual Rosetta Stone of improvisation rock and roll. I might be corrected by one of the painfully informed IA readers and I would be delighted if that happened. Happy Trails, y'all.

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Poster: William Tell Date: May 25, 2012 8:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry & Trey

Yes, you have that right...PB was hailed by one and all when he came thru the Bay Area, or so the older bros told me many a time. Same ones that loved CREAM, but yeah, they thought the world of the PB blues band, etc., etc.

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Poster: pdm59 Date: May 25, 2012 6:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry & Trey

"the soul of jerry's (or anyone/band) playing" & "The pressures were very, very different in his role with GD" are two key items. Music full of soul is powerful stuff. Soul comes through even on a crap playback system. Music without soul shows. Interpret that last line individually.

The pressure of the Dead and Jerry,s reluctant role of leader had to be hard over time. Drugs, apathy, and whatever else, may have played a bad role as well.

When the pressure is off freedom returns. In sports being a forfeit player when you are tired of the grind is great. It works like this "call me when you know you won't have enough players and I will play". It is hard to do wrong when your mere presence averts a sure loss. No pressure, enjoy the game, have a few beers. Easy job.

Trey? Jerry? To each his own. My 2 cents is on Jerry.